To lure millennials, companies go with the latest office perks

BDO collaborative spaces
BDO offers several collaborative spaces employees can reconfigure whatever way makes it easiest to work together//Photo by Ron Dubick.

By Kathy Canavan

Here are 10 things BDO’s new office has that yours probably doesn’t:

• A café with a big-big-screen TV.

• Pumped-in white noise.

• Sleek Herman Miller furniture.

• Work lockers.

• Writeable walls.

• Plug-and-play technology.

• A light-filled open environment.

• A giant computer screen on wheels.

• Desks that adjust so you can work sitting or standing.

• Collaborative space that looks like it’s straight out of Mad Men.

The 105-year-old international accounting firm has called for makeovers for each of its 63 U.S. offices. Its space at 4250 Lancaster Pike, inside DuPont’s Chestnut Run campus, was among the first eight do-overs. The work was completed this fall.

“We have gone from what I’m going to call our more traditional office design to an innovative and collaborative environment that takes advantage of the mobility of our staff. It’s all about giving them choices and options,” said Dave Stasiewicz, national director of corporate planning for BDO USA. “People feel the energy now when they walk into our space. It’s been incredibly well received.”

BDO accountants
Two BDO accountants take their discussion to the office kitchen, equipped with a big-screen television. Millennial accountants used the kitchen’s ice-water machine so much that the company quickly upgraded to a heavy-duty model//Photo by Ron Dubick.

What’s in

• Flexible design.

• Couches.

• Glass-walled meeting rooms.

• Drawerless desks.

• Writeable walls.

• A private room for nursing mothers.

• A café with beer-fueled happy hours whenever employees pass part of the CPA exam.

• An iced water machine that was so popular BDO bought an upgraded model in the first few weeks.

• An office where staffers can make private phone calls — locally dubbed “the cone of silence” a reach-back reference to the campy “Get Smart’’ TV show reruns.

What’s out

• Assigned seating.

• Corner offices. 

• Lateral files. (Documents are stored in the cloud.)

James M. Doyle (left) and Cameron B. McDonald
James M. Doyle (left) and Cameron B. McDonald, managing partners at BDO, confer in the reception area, which features contemporary accents and a big flat television.

What’s up

BDO is reworking its workspace to woo millennial workers, following in the footsteps of Google, Apple, CBRE, Cisco and Microsoft.

About 60 percent of the 35 full-time workers at BDO’s Wilmington office are millennials, those born between 1982 and 2004.  The competition for millennial interns is so strong that may companies now recruit interns junior year.

“You wouldn’t believe how much competition there is for interns,” said Cameron B. McDonald, a BDO managing partner. “We need to adapt and make ourselves attractive to millennials. It’s a tough business with long hours. We want to make it as much fun as possible. Whatever we can do to differentiate ourselves, we’re going to do that. I think this definitely made a difference in recruiting.”

Matthew Schron, a BDO audit associate who started as an intern, was around for the before and after: “It definitely gives a more modern aspect than the last place,” he said. “This is awesome.”

Ginny Smith, a senior associate, said the open concept office works much better for her than the old divided space.

“Before, some days I wouldn’t see all my co-workers, and now it’s open, and I can see everybody,” she said. “If I need to see if Cameron is here, I can just roll back and see he’s in and I can just waltz right in there. It’s nice.”

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